By: Richard Berry
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I asked myself a philosophical question: What is love? I even shocked myself to think so deeply because as many of you know, I am pretty much a 30,000-foot view, emotional kind of guy. I guess after 41 years together, some of Jan’s analytical thinking is starting to affect me too!
According to Webster’s dictionary, love is a quality or feeling of strong or constant affection for and dedication to another. The Huffington Post had this interesting quote about love, “No one falls in love by choice; it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance; it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance; it is by choice.” This leads me to something I learned in church as a teenager and through marriage enrichment classes - “love is a choice and not an emotion.”
What does the Bible say about love?
1. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
2. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
3. 1 John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
4. John 15:12-13 “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
As I think about love and reflect back over my life, I think about my mom, daughter of a tenant farmer with a 6th grade education, who only had love to give but really understood love, showed me love, and told me often how much she loved me. I think about Victor Berry who became my dad when I was 3 and how he demonstrated his love for me by working hard to provide for me. He never verbally told me he loved me until about a week before he died. I think about the love I have for my wife, Jan, whom I met when I was just 15 years old; and, I am forever changed by the unconditional love she shows me every day. I am also amazed to see how our love for each other has grown and evolved so much over the last 41 years. I will never forget the love I felt in the labor and delivery room as each of our children were born.
But without question, the greatest love that has ever been shown to me is explained above in John 3:16. When I was 11 years old at East Dillon Baptist Church, I walked the aisle knowing the love God must have for me to send His one and only Son to earth to die on a cross to pay the price for all of the sins I have ever committed or ever will commit and to allow me to one day stand before the judgment throne of God perfect, blemish-free and white as snow. All I had to do to accept Jesus’ love and free gift of salvation was to believe that He died and rose again, to admit my sin, and to surrender my life to Him. After becoming a Christ Follower, Jesus calls me daily to not just love others (1 John 4:7-8) but to go even further, to love others as He has loved me (John15:12- 13). Now that is a tall order!
I would like to challenge all of us and myself in 2023 to really share the love of Jesus with our families and with our community. I want each of you to know that as a member of our BFG Family you are loved and prayed for daily.